Lots ‘o Rain, Lots ‘o Mushrooms

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It has been raining, a lot, here on Long Lake. We took a walk on a two-track off Sorenson Road. We rousted a grouse. But mostly we marveled at mass quantities of mushrooms. I have some guesses on what a few of them are. And none of them will be making their way into my salad. If there are any shroomers among you, I’d welcome your comments identifying them.  If you want to learn more about mushrooms, Dr. Michael Kuo’s site is amazing.  He’ll have you learning about mushrooms and laughing about people at the same time.  His 100 Edible Mushrooms is very accessible and entertaining, even though I don’t find it tempting to eat what I find.  In fact, I don’t even want to touch what I find.

What’s the fuss…Malabrigo

This is another project from Cascade, this time from “220 Projects from Cascade 220.” Cute idea for a book. Not too many of the 220 projects in that book have captured my interest, but this is an interesting twist on an old idea: “Spiral Rib Hat” by Mary Lou Egan. I’m the only one who has knitted it and posted it on Ravelry. It deserves more attention. The top of the cap, in particular, renders the swirl quite nicely.

But, what you may notice most is that it isn’t knit in Cascade 220. From the look of it, there is no mistaking that this is not Cascade 220. And from the feel of it, there is no mistaking it for Cascade 220. If someone handed this cap to you in the dark, on a moonless night on Hillman’s Long Lake, you would know for sure it’s not Cascade 220. And you would not want to give this cap back. I’m also a big fan of Cascade 220, so I’ll just leave it at that.

This is Malabrigo merino worsted, in the sapphire-magenta colorway. I’d never heard of the yarn until I learned about it from other Ravelers. As of today, there are 48,706 projects knitted of it and posted on Ravelry. It’s currently stashed by Ravelers, awaiting project production, 29,962 times. In fact, there is only one yarn that has been used more often in Ravelry projects. Yes, that would be Cascade 220 wool. That’s been knitted up in 55,793 projects so far.

So, what’s the fuss? Malabrigo merino worsted feels like a cloud would feel if someone spun it into yarn. The yarn is kettle-dyed pure merino from a small family-run company in Uruguay. That’s their story, anyway, and I’m not gonna question it. It is wonderful yarn, for sure. Maybe that small Uruguayan family adds mass quantities of Downy Fabric softener into their sheep’s breakfast. At a minimum, their kids must be deployed to assure that the family sheep never roll in thistles.

If you have an “eek–not wool–wool makes me itch” person in your vicinity, try this yarn. The stuff will make a believer out of them.

Criss-cross Stitch

This is a very old friend. When I read the description of how it was done, I didn’t even recall this stitch. But then some kind of muscle memory took over and I remembered using it, long ago, in who knows what. It is a two row repeat, worked on an even number of stitches.  Row 1: knit 1, * slip one (as if to purl), knit one, pass slip stitch over (but leave it on the left needle and knit into the back of it) *, repeat from * to *, knit one. Row 2: *purl 2 together (don’t slip it off the left needle), purl again through the first stitch*, repeat from * to * across row.

What moved this stitch out of the memory banks and into my hands, is my current project: Chris de Longpre’s “Wrap Me Up.” This Knitting at Knoon pattern is great fun. It’s basically a stitch sampler shawl, with each new block knitted on to completed ones.  Block 13 is knitted in criss-cross stitch.  I’m using size 4 needles and three complementary colored variegated Opal 6 ply sock yarn.  Mine will be a scarf instead of a shawl.  Here’s how the criss-cross block knits up. Obviously, it’s the herringbone stitch on the right side:

There wasn’t much out on the net demonstrating this stitch. With Steve’s help, I’ve posted my first YouTube video. Some of it came out fairly nice. The audio is not too bad  The demo of the knit side works. As for the purl side–you’ll be able to follow it, despite my best efforts to keep ducking my knitting out of camera range. Who knew I purled with such rhythmic enthusiasm. Feel free to critique the video. If you haven’t yet tried this stitch, it creates a very firm fabric.  If you aren’t easily bored, a narrow strip of it could turn into a nifty necktie.

The video:

Too Much Thinking Cap

Knit-Alongs (KALs) are a frequent event on Ravelry. A group of knitters will decide to knit the same project at the same time.  The benefits are obvious. Camaraderie. Allowing your fellows to encourage completion of the project. Knitters can decide to stretch their skills some and try a pattern that promises to be difficult. If they get stuck, there will be a boatload of knitters ready to bail them out.

My first ever KAL is Mindy Vasil’s Thinking Cap. Mindy’s pattern is available to download on Ravelry and Knitpicks for $1.99. She generously offered her pattern for free in August and it looks like about 55 Ravelers completed it. We used all sorts of yarns, but mine is Cascade 220 wool. Mindy calls it the Thinking Cap because “with the cog lace pattern, [you] put the wheels of your mind in motion.”

Some of us knitted it easily and quickly. We had stragglers and strugglers and I put me in the strugglers catagory. I made mistake after mistake, which is why mine is the Too Much Thinking Cap. The pattern is 100% correctly written, but apparently “cog lace” and I were not meant to have an easy relationship. Finally, I put in lifelines and matters smoothed out considerably. I knit one less row of cogs, which gives my cap quite a bit less slouch than the one Mindy designed.

A lifeline, for those who haven’t knit enough lace yet to know the term, involves threading a thin strand of floss of some sort through the stitches. Not through the stitch markers though, or else you anchor them permanently in that row. If you goof, you can rip back to the lifeline and still keep all your yarn overs intact. Clever. Knitters often use dental floss for their lifelines. That’s what I used. I’m going to have to buy some that isn’t mint flavored, though, and keep it in my knitting bag. My Too Much Thinking Cap still bears the scent of the dental floss. So does my knitting bag.